Ukraine War Day #66: Infrastructure – Bridges (continued)

Dear Readers:

Today concluding my review of this piece by reporter Alexei Peskov. We saw that the 25 bridges over the Dnepr River have more significance than just the purely military-strategic.

A view of Dnepropetrovsk in 2015.

To be sure, the railroad bridges play a critical role in delivering supplies to the front. There are 3 such bridges in the Kiev area alone; and two in the city of Dnipro (formerly called Dnepropetrovsk).

Another 3 railroad bridges are located across major dams and reservoirs: In Kremenchug, Kamensky (formerly Dneprodzerzhinsk), and Zaporozhie.

Whenever a new bridge is opened in a city, this is huge event for the local citizenry. Each bridge has a unique history and style. For example, the automobile Bridge named after Soviet engineer E.O. Paton, in Kiev, which was built between 1940-1953, can be considered an architectural masterpiece of the Soviet period. Similarly, the railroad bridge Merefo-Khersonsky Bridge in Dnipro. If these bridges were to be bombed, then a national legacy would damaged; plus local transportation would collapse.

The reporter chatted with a Ukrainian Professor [who specializes in bridges] who prefers to remain anonymous. According to this expert, these bridges were built to last centuries. It would be physically possible, but extremely difficult, to take out these bridges, even with modern weaponry. One would have to use something like Kalibr or Iskander rockets; or bombs of the series KAB-400 or KAB-1500. Or perhaps a UPAB-1500. The latter of which has already been employed by the Russian forces during the course of this war.

Evgeny Paton designed the bridge named after him.

Nonetheless, a giant well-constructed bridge makes for an extremely complicated target. It’s not enough for the rocket or bomb to hit the bridge, it must do so in such a way as to make repairs take a very long time. By the same token, the destruction should not be intended to completely trash the bridge. One way or another, this “special operation” will be over at some point, and then peaceful life will resume.

A good example of these principles is the fact that Russian planes had to return a second time to the business of bombing the “Zatok” railroad bridge in the Odessa Oblast. After the first attack, the bridge was up and running again within hours. [yalensis: Readers may recall that the Russians felt the need to take out this particular bridge as a preemptive move in the upcoming battle for Odessa and Transnistria.]

It took 2 bombing runs to nail the Zatok Bridge near Odessa.

The anonymous Professor agreed that, if preserving a particular bridge would cost the lives of Russian servicemen, then, by all means, blast away. But he begged them to just destroy the parts on each shore, leaving the central construction intact, the parts deep under water. These are the most technologically complex parts of the construction. He also suggested not going after the bridges at all, but just destroying the places where the railroad lines are connected (проще будет наносить удары не по собственно пролетам, а по участкам примыкания железнодорожных путей). This will get the job done even better and cost less explosives.

Reminding us that bridges are not just things. They have a symbolic [and emotional] meaning to people. Destroying bridges in the center of Kiev or Dnipro will have a serious psychological effect on the people living there. This factor must be taken into account.

The Professor reminisces about the Yugoslav War in 1999, and how the Americans/NATO destroyed 3 major bridges across the Danube River, in the city of Novi Sad, Serbia. It took many years and millions of Euros to rebuild these bridges. [Serbs will never forgive the Americans for what they did.] He begs, once again: If the Russians are able to solve all their military tasks without destroying these bridges over the Dnepr River, then that would be super. It doesn’t seem like the Russians are thinking about doing that yet anyhow, it hasn’t quite come to that point. With some exceptions like the Zatok Bridge.

And the reporter ends this piece by once again reiterating that it can be an even more successful strategy to leave the bridges intact, and just go after the railroad ties, so that trains won’t be able to use those bridges.

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4 Responses to Ukraine War Day #66: Infrastructure – Bridges (continued)

  1. colliemum says:

    Thank you for this latest report and for the preceding ones: I’ve been struggling with health issues and haven’t had the energy to post the comments I’d have liked to.
    Regarding the ongoing fights: there’s something I find puzzling. At the start of the SMO we were told how deeply entrenched the Ukrainian lines facing the Donbas region were, akin to the Maginot Line in France, and that the best Ukrainian troops were stationed there. Now, with all those videos surfacing of those bunkers: all I can see are ditches and some deeper ‘bunkers’ which are nothing but some sheets of corrugated iron hiding a deeper hole. WWI soldiers would have been ashamed of such ‘bunkers’.
    Could it be that in fact the money for such fortifications, for weapons, for ‘elite soldiers’, had vanished into the pockets of Ukrainian oligarchs, that this ‘best Army in Europe’ existed only on paper?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Stephen T Johnson says:

      Ooh, that’s something I’ve been wondering myself. Few of the Ukrainian trench systems look really well made, lacking proper parapets, negligible reinforcement to keep them from collapsing under rain or heavy shell strikes, little sign of the deep bunkers you really want to be in for heavy bombardments, etc. They are zig-zagged, at least, and most seem to be of sufficient depth, but yeah, sloppy sloppy sloppy.. However, in fairness, what we’re seeing may be peripheral and/or secondary defensive elements. Time will tell!


      • yalensis says:

        These are excellent questions. I was led to believe, myself, that the Ukrainians spent 8 years toiling like beavers and building the best possible trenches around the Donbass. I think I was the one who compared them to the Maginot Line on steroids.

        I still think that the trenches are formidable, I mean realistically, they have been holding the Russians back, no? however, one might start to have doubts about the consistency of these fortifications. For example, I watched this analysis done by a Belorussian blogger, starting around 13:00 minutes in this particular video he shows some satellite shots of the actual trenchworks; and shows how in places they just meander and then stop, and then start again, without necessarily a continuous line. And this blogger appears to be pro-Ukrainian, by the way, from what I can tell.

        Seems like some of the trenches are very well made, others not so much. They vary from elaborate labyrinths with underground tunnels, to just something that somebody scratched out with a shovel.

        Re. the zigzagging: It’s my understanding that if you build a trench, it needs to have walls with right angles. That way, if somebody tosses a grenade into the trench, the blast is dissipated at the junction point, due to the laws of physics.

        colliemum: I am sorry to hear about your health problems, please take care of yourself, my dear. People like you are needed in this crazy world, so stay strong!


  2. Pingback: May 1-2, 2022 | Situation Report: The World

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